Chattanooga Woman Lives As ISIS Bride

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by Dillon Burroughs

“Be it religion, be it a man, be it a marriage, be it a child, be it ISIS, Ariel was always looking for something to define herself, an identity to cling to.”

This week reported a disturbing story of a young woman who had become a Muslim, married into an Islamic family in Europe, and now lives with her husband and two children alongside ISIS fighters in Syria. The surprising part of this account is the location—Chattanooga, Tennessee—minutes from our ministry headquarters and in the same community where a young Muslim man killed five U.S. military personnel just last week.

What persuades a homeschooled young woman from a Christian background to join ISIS? According to’s account, one of the woman’s friends shared, “Be it religion, be it a man, be it a marriage, be it a child, be it ISIS, Ariel was always looking for something to define herself, an identity to cling to.”

How do we find our own spiritual identity? For many, one’s identity is largely influenced by family. As we grow into our teens and young adulthood, identity is often challenged as we discover new areas of ability or encounter fresh life experiences. The Bible often speaks of the proper view of identity as well. Its words offer both timeless and relevant insights that can help us navigate the many religious worldviews we face today.

First, we find our identity in Christ. The apostle Paul notes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The believer in Christ exchanges an identity focused on self interest for the identity of Jesus. He exchanges our sin for forgiveness, our weakness for strength, and our mourning for joy.

Second, we find our identity as a child of God. According to John 1:12, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” God is not far off and distant for the believer; He is our heavenly Father. We pray to Him, “Our Father who art in heaven.” He knows us and loves us deeply.

Third, we find our identity beyond this world. Philippians 3:8 teaches, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” We live focused on the things of eternal value. We care less about the things of this life because our goal is eternity with Christ. We seek to know God more deeply each day, share Him with others, and anticipate His future coming (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Fourth, we find our identity in His suffering. Romans 8:17 shares, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” The believer in Christ is both filled with joy through a relationship with God as a loving Father, yet also realizes suffering sometimes exists as part of following Christ.

Fifth, we find our identity as one created in His image. Genesis 1:26-27 notes every person is created in the image of God. As followers of Christ, we find even greater joy in this truth. Ephesians 2:10 reveals, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

A lack of understanding our spiritual identity can lead to searching for unhealthy alternatives. Whether another religion, an unhealthy view of self, or destructive attitudes toward others, identity shapes how we think and live. Through a look at the biblical wisdom regarding our identity in Christ, we can remember how much we are loved, the care with which God has created us, and the new life we have, living with joy and having an impact among those around us.

[For the full report regarding Ariel Bradley, see The John Ankerberg Show provides this link for research purposes only and does not necessarily endorse the views of external links.]


For more information about the beliefs and teachings of Islam from the John Ankerberg Show, visit

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